- Has limited time to prepare for encounter with Equatorial Guinea in March
- Crunch plans include a game against a premier league 11
- Is making contact with foreign-based players for the Zebras
The late start of this season’s football league has left newly appointed head coach of the Botswana’s senior national football team, Mogomotsi Teenage Mpote, a frustrated man as he plans to travel across Africa in search of a second appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The league campaign began towards the end of October instead of the normal calendar of early August due to administration issues.
This means the senior national team, The Zebras, will have limited time to prepare for their back-to-back encounter with Equatorial Guinea in March next year.
The Zebras have played only against Tunisia and Libya so far and collected just one point.
Mpote has told Gazette Sports that he had intended to prepare his team thoroughly before facing Equatorial Guinea and that he has long presented his roadmap to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) that he fears may fail due to the late start of the league.
“It is frustrating that the league campaign started late because remember we share players with their respective clubs,” he said.
Even so, he emphasised he has not sat and folded his arms but intends to call players for weekday training in order to condition them for the games ahead. Discussions are ongoing to approach clubs about their players joining senior national team in training camps.
The Zebras gaffer added that even though his preps have fallen behind, he intends to ask for a game against a premier league squad or players who have not been selected for the senior national team. The idea, Mpote explained, is an opportunity to relook at some of the players.
“The roadmap is straight,” he said. “We have to utilise FIFA calendar weeks by playing friendly games and to call Under 23 players to camp so that we may have a strong pool of players to pick from.”
Mpote is also in the process of trying to engage some foreign-based players with a view to having them join the senior national team as he devises different combinations to accommodate most league players.
“We want to start engaging league clubs as early as now in order to start training camps in January,” said the coach. “We are looking at various avenues to have all these players in one place often because that would help the team greatly.”
It is his observation that most premier league players currently lack match fitness and that some of them do not have a proper diet while others need to develop the proper mental strength.
Mpote’s plan has always been to achieve a comprehensive improvement of his national team players for which he needs the support of all stakeholders.
He emphasised the importance of working on players’ individual capacity beyond so that they may play their trade in high profile leagues across the world.
This former Orapa United, Township Rollers and Miscellaneous coach believes that having many players in foreign leagues should be a target as a means of improving the entire squad that can compete at continental level.